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Michael N.
09-13-2016, 02:01 AM
Seems that I've gained a local reputation as the guy with the log burner. It has it's advantages. Folk bring me lots of firewood, gratis, free delivery included!. All I have to do is cut it up.
A few days ago I had a fresh delivery. It's virtually all old construction timbers, firewood. But amongst the ever growing pile I spotted something of interest. Two old table tops. Going by the construction I would date them as Edwardian, maybe late '30's. One is Oak, the one at the bottom is some sort of mahogany type. I can't give a positive id. I'm not really bothered. Scratching it with a fingernail suggests that it's in the mahogany density range. I'll weigh it when I cut it up. I might squeeze a baritone and a guitalele out of it, certainly if I use it for just back/sides. I've already cut some of the oak, which will make for plenty of fretboards and bridges. One has already been done, with a rosewood dye. You can see the colour contrast of the freshly planed oak to the colour of the old table. Over time oak can get pretty dark.
Both woods are very easy to plane, probably because they were originally air dried.


http://i56.photobucket.com/albums/g193/mignal/ba711a18-e248-486e-bf60-caa059a318cd_zps5jbb6oty.jpg (http://s56.photobucket.com/user/mignal/media/ba711a18-e248-486e-bf60-caa059a318cd_zps5jbb6oty.jpg.html)

sequoia
09-13-2016, 06:27 PM
I love it. Found wood is such a bonus. You know, the thing is, uke makers don't really need much in the way of wood. How much old koa is out there as tables, floors or whatnot that could make a hundred ukuleles? Or walnut furniture? In my experience, the biggest problem with re-purposing this stuff is how hard it can be to work with. So dry. All to the good in the end... As to what it is I have no idea. Was mahogany popular in the UK back then? From the picture it is hard to tell.

Michael N.
09-14-2016, 01:23 AM
Mahogany was considered a premium furniture wood, so it was popular. It actually looks and works more like Sapele than Honduran. Honduran it certainly is not, I've had too much experience of it. I don't think it's Cuban either, I've had one small board of that many years ago. It could be African mahogany but the stuff I've had has been much more pinkish in colour but it probably varies. I'm not entirely convinced it's Sapele though, I've a few boards of the stuff.
I'm guessing it was one of the cheaper mahogany types. I also came across a couple of the turned legs that fit the table top. They were well made but were of Pine stained a mahogany colour, which indicates it wasn't intended for the higher classes.
Not that any of this really matters. I'm not one who believes much in the effects of back/side tonewood types. I think there are far much bigger fish to fry in terms of construction and in terms of soundboard properties.

sequoia
09-14-2016, 06:29 PM
Yeah, "mahogany" is a real slippery term. There are many species and who knows where they are sourced... I too used to be a staunch believer in that back/side tonewood types do not effect the sound that much. But then I built an uke out of some really nice rosewood and damn if it didn't make a noticeable difference. Now I know how subjective hearing sound can be, but this was really noticeable and significant. The projection and separation was eye opening. So... I built that exact same uke with ziricote back and sides and it didn't sound the same at all. The top was identical (Sitka spruce thinned and braced absolutely identically or as close as humanly possible taking in human error and slightly different wood) and yet responded differently. Not badly, just differently. Logically I cannot explain the difference, but I'm coming around to the idea that it does make a significant difference. My world just tilted slightly. Some luthiers might just say, "Well no shit ~".

Timbuck
09-14-2016, 08:26 PM
Yeah, "mahogany" is a real slippery term. There are many species and who knows where they are sourced... I too used to be a staunch believer in that back/side tonewood types do not effect the sound that much. But then I built an uke out of some really nice rosewood and damn if it didn't make a noticeable difference. Now I know how subjective hearing sound can be, but this was really noticeable and significant. The projection and separation was eye opening. So... I built that exact same uke with ziricote back and sides and it didn't sound the same at all. The top was identical (Sitka spruce thinned and braced absolutely identically or as close as humanly possible taking in human error and slightly different wood) and yet responded differently. Not badly, just differently. Logically I cannot explain the difference, but I'm coming around to the idea that it does make a significant difference. My world just tilted slightly. Some luthiers might just say, "Well no shit ~".
I just finished building two sopranos side by side both from same board both identical in all dimensions (They all were thicknessed at the same time and settings on the Jet) the necks came from the same billet as did the fret boards...The only difference is one has white tuner buttons and the other black...But! the white buttoned one has a much more bassier tone than the black...confusing in't it :confused: That must be it! it's the colour of the buttons that change the tone :rolleyes:

Michael N.
09-14-2016, 08:34 PM
Yeah, "mahogany" is a real slippery term. There are many species and who knows where they are sourced... I too used to be a staunch believer in that back/side tonewood types do not effect the sound that much. But then I built an uke out of some really nice rosewood and damn if it didn't make a noticeable difference. Now I know how subjective hearing sound can be, but this was really noticeable and significant. The projection and separation was eye opening. So... I built that exact same uke with ziricote back and sides and it didn't sound the same at all. The top was identical (Sitka spruce thinned and braced absolutely identically or as close as humanly possible taking in human error and slightly different wood) and yet responded differently. Not badly, just differently. Logically I cannot explain the difference, but I'm coming around to the idea that it does make a significant difference. My world just tilted slightly. Some luthiers might just say, "Well no shit ~".

I'd be very careful of jumping to conclusions based on just one or even a few examples. There can be a lot of things that alter our judgement of tone, things that aren't immediately obvious. The real eye opener is when you do the blind testing and all those things you heard about Spruce and Cedar are nowhere near as obvious as everyone seems to think. . . .
I've done a lot of blind testing. I'm not saying that there aren't differences but believe me you might be extremely surprised at your own 'blind' results.

Pete Howlett
09-14-2016, 11:37 PM
I saw some wood today in Bob Gleason's stash that was the spit of some 'koa' sold me years ago. It's not koa of course. However I did see more curl than you could shake a stick at and on my departure was gifted a set of very nice curly stuff. Bob has always supported me. Great guy, good friend, mentor and craftsman.

sequoia
09-16-2016, 06:43 PM
I'd be very careful of jumping to conclusions based on just one or even a few examples. There can be a lot of things that alter our judgement of tone, things that aren't immediately obvious.

This is so true. It is called subjective bias. We want to hear what we want to hear and we hear what we expect to hear. That being said, that doesn't mean that we don't hear good things and bad things that are real. It is separating the two that can be the challenge for me. It gets slippery out there.

Michael N.
09-17-2016, 01:18 AM
Subjective bias is very real. I've known about it for years. Sometime ago I received an email from a retired guitar maker.
He had placed his own label over the original label of a real Fleta guitar (probably worth 20 K +) that he had in his workshop and that had come in for a finish touch up. He had a number of people play this guitar but before each of them played it he warned them that it was the only Cedar topped guitar he had ever made and he lacked experience with that type of wood. He wasn't very proud of the sound and he much preferred his spruce guitars. At one time five students from the conservatoire turned up to try out his guitars. He handed them his 'Fleta' and his spruce model. All of them preferred his spruce. He then told them that one guy had been in and made a comment that his cedar guitar sounded just like a . . . Fleta. They all burst out laughing.
Of course had they known that it was a real Fleta their opinions most likely would have been entirely different. They would have looked for all the good that was in the sound of the guitar, glossed over the bad. The converse can happen for an unknown maker, they subconciously look for the bad whilst glossing over the good. Of course I'm generalising but there's certainly a large element of that sort of thing. That's why I always think that the only objective way to judge instruments is in blind tests, even though they may be imperfect. They are less imperfect than non-blind tests though.